On Wednesday Covington police arrested a man they say posed as a Tractor Supply employee to steal a lawnmower.
It all started on Monday, Dec. 12, when Covington’s store received a call from a man who identified himself as the manager of the Brownsville store. He told Covington employees he would be picking up a Cub Cadet GT1 54-in. zero-turn lawnmower for a store-to-store transfer, then showed up saying he’d been sent by manager David B. Lewis.
The Covington employees trusted him and did not verify his identity. He left with the lawnmower in a black truck pulling a trailer.
Police say moments later the Covington staff contacted the Haywood store and the manager indicated he had not requested a transfer of a lawnmower.
Detectives reviewed camera footage to attempt to identify the suspect and vehicle description.
The footage confirmed the suspect used a debit card to purchase other merchandise prior to leaving with the mower. Detectives were able to determine the number the original call from the suspect was made from and began tracing the owner.
As it so often does these days, things blew up in the suspect’s face when police received a tip that a similar mower was being sold through Facebook Marketplace.
Detectives conducted an undercover call to set up a purchase of the mower at a parking lot in Nutbush. Detectives were assisted by the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office.
The seller never showed but detectives traced a possible location of the suspect to Tibbs Road in Brownsville. That’s where the found the stolen mower.
Upon arriving at the residence, a truck, trailer, and lawnmower covered by a tarp were spotted in the driveway.
Bryon Stevens, 47, admitted to his role in the theft. The truck, trailer and lawnmower were seized as evidence and secured at the city impound lot.
Stevens has been transported to the Tipton County jail and charged with Criminal Impersonation and Theft of Property Over $1,000. He remains in custody awaiting his Jan. 6, 2023 court appearance in Tipton County General Sessions Court.
“I want to thank our citizens who continue to support our efforts in identifying suspects in these cases by calling in tips and information which clearly led detectives to the suspect in this case,” said Chief Donna Turner. “I want to thank Haywood County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance at the scene. I commend our detectives for quickly solving this case and recovering the lawnmower which easily could have been sold prior to the recovery. This investigation is an example of our ongoing efforts to reduce retail thefts in Covington and Tipton County businesses during the holiday season.”